This is part two in a series on Becoming a More Confident Leader.
Read part one.
In my previous post, I described three essentials for becoming a more confident leader: maximize your strengths, address your liabilities, and make peace with your weaknesses. If you are ready to take these three steps, then here are some resources that will help.
3 Essential Tools to Help You Become a More Confident Leader
Identify your strengths.
To maximize your strengths, you first must identify them.To maximize your strengths, you first must identify them. Click To Tweet
To do this, I recommend the Strengthsfinder 2.0 assessment tool. Then, pair that online resource with the Strengths Based Leadership book (a new copy will include a code that allows you to take the Strengthsfinder assessment).
When I first took the assessment, I discovered that my top five strengths focused on my thinking abilities. My immediate response: “Crap! Who will hire me just for being good at thinking?” The benefit of the Strengths Based Leadership text is that it categorizes the 34 strengths traits into four domains: executing, influencing, relationship-building, and strategic thinking.
After meeting with a leadership coach, I discovered that having my top strengths in strategic thinking was only a liability if I did not have mutually beneficial relationships with others who had the gifts I lacked. With that in mind, I now make it a priority to connect with people who are talented at executing, influencing, and relationship-building.
To address your liabilities, you need direct and honest feedback to identify them.To address your liabilities, you need direct and honest feedback to identify them. Click To Tweet
Be forewarned: the process can be emotionally challenging, and you are going to get some feedback that challenges how you view yourself. However, no pain = no gain. Without that kind of feedback, you won’t be able to really identify your liabilities – much less correct them.
360 feedback can help you get critical information about strengths, weaknesses, and liabilities. In 360 feedback, you rate yourself on a set of leadership indicators, and your supervisor, peers, direct reports, and others also rate you on these same indicators. The Center for Creative Leadership’s Benchmarks 360 is an especially helpful tool because it will help you identify both strengths and deficiencies in 16 leadership competencies as well as warn you about five career-derailing traits.
If you don’t want to use a professionally developed tool, you can ask a few direct questions to those you work with. Try asking people whose opinions you value:
- How do you define healthy leadership?
- How do you see those qualities at work in my life?
- What do I need to start doing in order to better represent your definition of healthy leadership?
- What do I need to stop doing in order to better represent your definition of healthy leadership?
- What do I need to continue doing in order to represent your definition of healthy leadership?
- Is there anything else you would like to tell me?
Separate your weaknesses from your liabilities.
To make peace with your weaknesses, start by separating your weaknesses from your liabilities.Separate your weaknesses from your liabilities. Click To Tweet
To do this, imagine yourself distinguishing between “paper tigers” and “real tigers.” What’s the difference? Real tigers can actually hurt us, while paper tigers only look harmful from a distance. When we examine them up close, we realize paper tigers are not such a big deal.
Another skill for making peace with your weaknesses is to recognize your physical and emotional state. When the adrenaline starts pumping, you need to recognize that you are in fight or flight mode. Once you recognize the state you are in, you can pause and examine the perceived threat – is it a paper tiger or a real tiger?
Paper tigers still require a response, though they may not pose a “real” threat. That response is to start calming ourselves. Mindfulness practices are especially helpful here. For addressing anxiety and feelings of helplessness that both paper tigers and real tigers inspire, I recommend Martin Seligman’s work on positive psychology, especially his book Learned Optimism. For addressing anxiety and chronic pain issues, I recommend Peter Levine’s work, especially Freedom from Pain.
Leaders are often highly driven people who want results NOW. Therefore, they can struggle with these three steps because they require patience and small experiments. Please be patient, because with time, these practices will help you become a more confident leader.
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